Nature of the Valar
The Valar are the greatest beings in Eä. Their spirits are closer to Eru than those of the Maïar, for the Valar are higher Ainur. They are Eru’s guardians of the World, and the Maïar serve them accordingly.
Each Vala is a unique spiritual entity who exemplifies one or more of Eru’s. thoughts. The Valar are the focus of the themes of creation, and they represent generalized concepts which Eru envisioned in the Beginning (e.g., air and earth, fire and water, life and death, love and sorrow, or freedom and fate). Acting through the Valar, then, Eru sculpts or elaborates these conceptions into the patterns and forms that compose Eä — Arda and the Heavens and all that live within their confines.
A Vala oversees his or her specific theme, creating detail on behalf of the One and within his framework. For instance, Eru envisioned the solid earth, but it was (and is) his Valar who actually raised the mountains and carved the valleys of Arda. Aulë, the Smith, is the particular focus of this theme, for he is the patron Vala of crafts and his title is Master of the Earth.
The Valar as Beings
Although the Valar were born before Time, at the outset of Creation, they are spirits who share thoughts common to all beings sired by Eru. They have male and female aspects, possess emotions, and suffer imperfections. Only Eru is perfect and all-knowing.
The exact nature of the Valar is nevertheless beyond the comprehension of lesser beings. Except for the Maïar, who are also Ainur, no other spirits fully understand the depth of Vala feelings or the manner of their weaknesses. Valar are spirits without material form, and form dictates much in the way feelings manifest themselves.
Although the Powers have one or more preferred fanar (Q. “veils;” sing. “fana”), or physical bodies, they assume and shed these corporeal guises at will. A Vala’s fana is a convenient structure which enables him to interact in Eä, but it is not essential to his being. The Valar do not permit themselves (as Morgoth did) to be tied to their temporary bodily trappings, so their characters remain rooted in pure spirits. Thus, their essence stays mysterious and elusive, and beyond the knowledge of Eru’s Children.
While they are materially formless, the Valar still cultivate their own society: a hierarchy involving power, kinship, and matrimony. Manwë is their King; his wife Varda is their Queen. This structure underlies all Vala relationships, and provides order for both the Council of the Valar and interactions among the sub-societies composed of the lesser Maïar. It is a simple court society, with each Vala serving as a lord or lady. In turn, all Valar preside over their own Maia people.
Benevolence and cooperation make this Vala society work without discord. Eru, of course, is the supreme arbiter, but he is removed from Eä and relies on his guardians to function without his direct involvement. Thus, it is Manwë who, acting through a council (or court) composed of all the Powers, maintains unity and continuity. A powerful, emotive, and empathetic leader, he coordinates his brethren rather than dominating them, although he is quite capable of proclaiming and enforcing his word as supreme law.
The Home of the Valar
Manwë’s home sits atop the highest mountain in Arda, an ever-white holy peak in the Pelóri Mountains called Taniquetil (Q. “High White Peak”). There, on the heights which rise above the clouds and protect the eastern flank of Valinor, Manwë and Varda reside in the Halls of Ilmarin (S. “Mansion of High Airs”). His court, however, meets in the Ring of Doom (Q. “Mahanaxar”), near the site of the green Hill of Ezollahar, upon which stands the lifeless trunks of the Two Trees.
Ezollahar, the Ring of Doom, and the now-drained Wells of Varda lie just outside the bounds of the Valar’s capital, the city of Valmar (Q. “Dwelling of the Powers;” aka “Valimar”). This enchanted place is graced with high, domed towers and countless bells, and it is filled with song and splendor. Located in the central hills of Valinor, Valmar serves as the home for many of Arda’s Ainur.
The Valar who dwell outside Valmar abide within the places maintained by their spirit. Ulmo inhabits the waters, wandering alone wherever they flow. Aulë labors in his mansions, deep within the heart of the Pelóri, while Oromë hunts in the wild forests of southern Valinor. Námo lives with his wife Vairë on the western coast of Aman, where he oversees the Halls of Mandos. His sister Nienna lives nearby. Irmo, his younger brother, stays in the forest Lórien, along with his spouse Estë.
The Individual Valar
Originally, there were fifteen Valar, including the virtually coequal brothers, Manwë and Melkor (Morgoth). With Morgoth’s rebellion, however, he became a great Enemy (see Section 7.0). Fourteen Valar remained: seven male and seven female. The eight called Aratar (S. “Exalted”) are more powerful than the other six, and their influence has greater impact on Eä.
Although they are described in more detail in Section 5.2, an overview of the individual Valar follows.
The Aratar (Greater Powers)
- Association/theme: Air (sky, wind, weather, sight, empathy, wisdom).
- Status: King of the Valar.
- Husband of Varda.
- Brother of Melkor (Morgoth)?
- Color: blue.
- Association/theme: Light (stars, light of Arda, hearing, insight).
- Status: Queen of the Valar. Chief of Valier.
- Wife of Manwë.
- Color: white.
- Aka Elentári, Elbereth Gilthoniel, Star-kindler.
- Association/themes: Water (sea, rain, springs).
- Status: King of the Sea (Ocean Lord; Master of Waters). Spirit of the Veins of the Earth.
- Color: sea green.
- Association/theme: Earth (non-living earth, crafts, materiality).
- Status: The Smith (Lord of Crafts). Master of the Earth. Maker (of Dwarves).
- Husband of Yavanna.
- Color: brown.
- Association/theme: Earth (living earth, Olvar).
- Status: Mistress of the Earth. Giver of Fruits. Keeper of Plants.
- Wife of Aulë and older sister of Vána.
- Color: deep green.
- Association/theme: Spirits (death, passing).
- Status: Fëantur (Spirit-master). Keeper of the Dead. Doomsmaster. Lord of the Halls of Awaiting.
- Older brother of Nienna and Námo.
- Color: black.
- Association/themes: Conscience (grief, pity, suffering).
- Status: The Weeper.
- Sister of Irmo and Námo.
- Color: red.
- Aka Loner, the Sufferer.
- Association/theme: Nature (forests, wild, Kelvar).
- Status: The Huntsman. Tamer of Beasts. Master of the Wild. Forest Lord. Master of the Wilds.
- Husband of Vána and older brother of Nessa.
- Color: silver.
- Aka Horn-sounder, Trumpet, Tauron, Bema, or Araw.
The Lesser Powers
- Association/themes: Youth (wild, birth, renewal, fire, flowers, song).
- Status: The Ever-young. Mistress of Flowers and Song.
- Wife of Oromë and younger sister of Yavanna.
- Color: spring green.
Tulkas (sum. Astaldo)
- Association/themes: Valor (friendship, loyalty, laughter, hardiness, delight).
- Status: Champion of the Valar. The Valiant.
- Husband of Nessa.
- Color: red gold.
- Association/themes: Joy (celebration, happiness).
- Status: Dancer. Mistress of Celebration.
- Wife of Tulkas and younger sister of Oromë.
- Color: orange.
- Association/theme: Spirits (dreams, desires, love, vision, peace).
- Status: Fëantur (Spirit-master). Dream Master. Lord of Visions. Master of the Fountains of Renewal.
- Husband of Estë and younger brother of Námo and Nienna.
- Color: deep blue.
- Aka Desirer.
- Association/themes: Renewal (healing, rest, peace).
- Status: The Healer. Mistress of the Fountains of Renewal.
- Wife of Irmo.
- Color: grey.
- Association/themes: Time (fate, tales, memory).
- Status: The Weaver.
- Wife of Námo.
- Color: purple.
The Fallen Vala (the Black Enemy)
- Association/theme: Fire (cold, crafts, materiality, earth).
- Status: The Mighty. The Unmaker.
- Brother of Manwë?
- Color: none.
- Aka He Who Arises in Might, the Great Enemy, the Black Enemy, the Nameless.
(For a complete description of Morgoth, see Section 7.1.)
The Relationships Among the Valar
Manwë — Varda
Aulë — Yavanna — Vana — Oromë — Nessa — Tulkas Vairë — Námo Nienna Irmo — Estë
Marriage bond = — Sibling bond =—
The General Powers of Vala Characters
Since the Valar are the greatest of the spirits in Eä, their power is difficult to assess. Their incorporeal nature and unique patterns of thought place them beyond normal comprehension. In the context of an FRP game, they truly approximate the concept of lesser (or demi-) gods.
Within this context, it is hard to quantify a Vala’s power; and complicating matters, of course, is the fact that each Vala is unique. We can, however, approximate the scale of a Vala’s strength, and we can provide some general powers which relate to all Valar.
The following guidelines cover powers that a GM can use when employing Vala characters in a FRP game.
Unless otherwise noted, critical strikes against a Vala are rolled on the Super Large Creature Critical Strike Tables. This applies to both physical attacks and spells.
For MERP, use tables CT-10 and CT-11, with a –20 modification to the critical strike roll.
For RM, use Arms Law Table 8.14 and Spell Law Table 10.85. Note that only “E” critical results affect Valar (and thereby enable the attacker to roll to determine a critical strike result).
In the case of attacks against the Aratar, the eight Greater Powers use an additional –20 modification to the critical strike roll (e.g., a roll on MERP CT-10 would have a –40 modification versus one of the Aratar).
Death of form
When a Vala is “killed,” only his form is slain. In such case, the Vala’s soul immediately departs from Middle-earth and either (i) returns to Aman or, (ii) as in the case of a rebellious Vala (e.g., Morgoth), it passes from Eä into the Timeless Void.
A fallen Vala does not enjoy Eru’s support, and the Vala’s death might signal the permanent departure of their presence from Middle-earth. Of course, no Vala has ever died — either in body or spirit.
Valar returning to Aman may take a new form at will. This process might take some time (say 1 – 100 days); however, a Vala with a specific mission might return very quickly (say in 1 – 100 hrs).
Vitality of fana (form)
When burdened with an adopted body, the Valar can utilize their forms to their uppermost limits (e.g., a Vala running as a Man, will run as fast or faster than any other Man). They never age and they tire extremely slowly. Immune to the elements and disease, their fanar are perfect corporeal vessels. They require no sleep per se, although some (e.g., Estë and Irmo) desire sleep. Normally, however, a Vala uses some sort of meditative rest, particularly when taking a lesser form (e.g., 2 hrs/day for a Vala in Mannish form, 1 hr/day in Elvish form, 1.5 hrs/day in Dwarvish form, 2.5 hrs/day in Hobbitish form, etc.).
Form and mind
When taking form, a Vala acquires the patterns of thought and emotion associated with the adopted body. They can, for instance, understand a Man’s loves and concerns (including the fear of death), when they take Mannish form. This has its drawbacks, of course, for the Vala will suffer from the effects of the emotions he feels.
Unless otherwise stated, the ranges, effect radii, and effect diameters of spells cast by Valar are increased tenfold. A spell that normally has a “touch” range has a range of 50’ in the hands of a Vala. These rules do not, however, apply to spells imbedded in an item and cast by a Vala.
Multiple spells and targets
Unless otherwise stated, a Vala can utilize a number spells in the same round; however the sum of the spell levels involved may not exceed the Vala’s level. For example, a 500th Lvl Vala could simultaneously deploy ten 50th level spells, or fifty 10th level spells in the same round.
References to Vala power points in Section 4.2 do not include the effect of their spell enhancing items (e.g., PP multipliers). These include only inherent capabilities based on the Vala’s relevant stats, which are calculated differently than those of the Maïar or lesser beings. Where a Vala’s stat is 102 or more, the number of PPs per level equals 3 + (stat — 101). For instance, a Vala with a PP-related stat of 140 has 42 PPs per level.
The relationships among the Valar
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